father; I was going to his house when Mademoiselle de Montalais so kindly stopped me. I hope the comte is well. You have heard nothing to the contrary, have you?" "No, M. Raoul - nothing, thank God!" Here, for several instants, ensued a silence, during which two spirits, which followed the same idea, communicated perfectly, without even the assistance of a single glance. "Oh, heavens!" exclaimed Montalais in a fright; "there is somebody coming up." "Who can it be?" said Louise, rising in great agitation. "Mesdemoiselles, I inconvenience you very much. I have, without doubt, been very indiscreet," stammered Raoul, very ill at ease. "It is a heavy step," said Louise. "Ah! if it is only M. Malicorne," added Montalais, "do not disturb yourselves." Louise and Raoul looked at each other to inquire who M. Malicorne could be. "There is no occasion to mind him," continued Montalais; "he is not jealous." "But, mademoiselle - "said Raoul. "Yes, I understand. Well, he is discreet as I am." "Good heavens!" cried Louise, who had applied her ear to the door, which had been left ajar; "it is my mother's step!" "Madame de Saint-Remy! Where shall I hide myself?" exclaimed Raoul, catching at the dress of Montalais, who looked quite bewildered. "Yes," said she; "yes, I know the clicking of those pattens! It is our excellent mother. M. le Vicomte, what a pity it is the window looks upon a stone pavement, and that fifty paces below it." Raoul glanced at the balcony in despair. Louise seized his arm and held it tight. "Oh, how silly I am!" said Montalais; "have I not the robe-of-ceremony closet? It looks as if it were made on purpose." It was quite time to act; Madame de Saint-Remy was coming up at a quicker pace than usual. She gained the landing at the moment when Montalais, as in all scenes of surprises, shut the closet by leaning with her back against the door. "Ah!" cried Madame de Saint-Remy, "you are here, are you, Louise?" "Yes, madame," replied she, more pale than if she had committed a great crime. "Well, well!" "Pray be seated, madame," said Montalais, offering her a chair, which she placed so that the back was towards the closet. "Thank you, Mademoiselle Aure - thank you. Come, my child, be quick." "Where do you wish me to go, madame?" "Why, home, to be sure; have you not to prepare your toilette?" "What did you say?" cried Montalais, hastening to affect surprise, so fearful was she that Louise would in some way commit herself. "You don't know the news, then?" said Madame de Saint-Remy. "What news, madame, is it possible for two girls to learn up in this dove-cote?" "What! have you seen nobody?" "Madame, you talk in enigmas, and you torment us at a slow fire!" cried Montalais, who, terrified at seeing Louise become paler and paler, did not know to what saint to put up her vows. At length she caught an eloquent look of her companion's, one of those looks which would convey intelligence to a brick wall. Louise directed her attention to a hat - Raoul's unlucky hat, which was set out in all its feathery splendor upon the table. Montalais sprang towards it, and, seizing it with her left hand, passed it behind her into the right, concealing it as she was speaking. "Well," said Madame de Saint-Remy, "a courier has arrived, announcing the approach of the king. There, mesdemoiselles; there is something to make you put on your best looks." "Quick, quick!" cried Montalais. "Follow Madame your mother, Louise; and leave me to get ready my dress of ceremony." Louise arose; her mother took her by the hand, and led her out on to the landing. "Come along," said she; then adding in a low voice, "When I forbid you to come the apartment of Montalais, why do you do so?" "Madame, she is my friend. Besides, I had but just come." "Did you see nobody concealed while you were there?" "Madame!" "I saw a man's hat, I tell you - the hat of that fellow, that good-for- nothing!" "Madame!" repeated Louise. "Of that do-nothing Malicorne! A maid of honor to have such company – fie! fie!" and their voices were lost in the depths of the narrow staircase. Montalais had not missed a word of this conversation, which echo conveyed to her as if through a tunnel. She shrugged her shoulders on seeing Raoul, who had listened likewise, issue from the closet. "Poor Montalais!" said she, "the victim of friendship! Poor Malicorne, the victim of love!" She stopped on viewing the tragic-comic face of Raoul, who was vexed at having, in one day, surprised so many secrets. "Oh, mademoiselle!" said he; "how can we repay your kindness?" "Oh, we will balance accounts some day," said she. "For the present, begone, M. de Bragelonne, for Madame de Saint-Remy is not over indulgent; and any indiscretion on her part might bring hither a domiciliary visit, which would be disagreeable to all parties." "But Louise - how shall I know - " "Begone! begone! King Louis XI. knew very well what he was about when he invented the post." "Alas!" sighed Raoul. "And am I not here - I, who am worth all the posts in the kingdom? Quick, I say, to horse! so that if Madame de Saint-Remy should return for the purpose of preaching me a lesson on morality, she may not find you here." "She would tell my father, would she not?" murmured Raoul. "And you would be scolded. Ah, vicomte, it is very plain you come from court; you are as timid as the king. _Peste!_ at Blois we contrive better than that, to do without papa's consent. Ask Malicorne else!" And at these words the girl pushed Raoul out of the room by the shoulders. He glided swiftly down to the porch, regained his horse, mounted, and set off as if he had had Monsieur's guards at his heels. Chapter IV: Father and Son. Raoul followed the well-known road, so dear to his memory, which led from Blois to the residence of the Comte de la Fere. The reader will dispense with a second description of that habitation: he, perhaps, has been with us there before, and knows it. Only, since our last journey thither, the walls had taken on a grayer tint, and the brick-work assumed a more harmonious copper tone; the trees had grown, and many that then only stretched their slender branches along the tops of the hedges, now, bushy, strong, and luxuriant, cast around, beneath boughs swollen with sap, great shadows of blossoms or fruit for the benefit of the traveler. Raoul perceived, from a distance, the two little turrets, the dove-cote in the elms, and the flights of pigeons, which wheeled incessantly around that brick cone, seemingly without power to quit it, like the sweet memories which hover round a spirit at peace. As he approached, he heard the noise of the pulleys which grated under the weight of the heavy pails; he also fancied he heard the melancholy moaning of the water which falls back again into the wells - a sad, funereal, solemn sound, which strikes the ear of the child and the poet – both dreamers - which the English call _splash_; Arabian poets _gasgachau_; and which we Frenchmen, who would be poets, can only translate by a paraphrase - _the noise of water falling into water_. It was more than a year since Raoul had been to visit his father. He had passed the whole time in the household of M. le Prince. In fact, after all the commotions of the Fronde, of the early period of which we formerly attempted to give a sketch, Louis de Conde had made a public, solemn and frank reconciliation with the court. During all the time that the rupture between the king and the prince had lasted, the prince, who had long entertained a great regard for Bragelonne, had in vain offered him advantages of the most dazzling kind for a young man. The Comte de la Fere, still faithful to his principles of loyalty, and royalty, one day developed before his son in the vaults of Saint Denis, - the Comte de la Fere, in the name of his son, had always declined them. Moreover, instead of following M. de Conde in his rebellion, the vicomte had followed M. de Turenne, fighting for the king. Then when M. de Turenne, in his turn, had appeared to abandon the royal cause, he had quitted M. de Turenne, as he had quitted M. de Conde. It resulted from this invariable line of conduct, that, as Conde and Turenne had never been conquerors of each other but under the standard of the king, Raoul, however young, had ten victories inscribed on his list of services, and not one defeat from which his bravery or conscience had to suffer. Raoul, therefore, had, in compliance with the wish of his father, served obstinately and passively the fortunes of Louis XIV., in spite of the tergiversations which were endemic, and, it might be said, inevitable, at that period. M. de Conde; on being restored to favor, had at once availed himself of all the privileges of the amnesty to ask for many things back again which had been granted to him before, and among others, Raoul. M. de la Fere, with his invariable good sense, had immediately sent him again to the prince. A year, then, had passed away since the separation of the father and son; a few letters had softened, but not removed, the pain of absence. We have seen that Raoul had left at Blois another love in addition to filial love. But let us do him this justice - if it had not been for chance and Mademoiselle de Montalais, two great temptations, Raoul, after delivering his message, would have galloped off towards his father's house, turning his head round, perhaps, but without stopping for a single instant, even if Louise had held out her arms to him. So the first part of the journey was given by Raoul to regretting the past which he had been forced to quit so quickly, that is to say, his lady-love; and the other part to the friend he was about to join, so much too slowly for his wishes. Raoul found the garden-gate open, and rode straight in, without regarding the long arms, raised in anger, of an old man dressed in a jacket of violet-colored wool, and a large cap of faded velvet.
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